Eds: Adds more details about Hispanic names. Corrects that Irish people speak Gaelic . With AP Photos.
Emma and Liam were the most frequently chosen baby names for 2017.
For the fourth year in a row, Emma was the top girl’s name according to the annual list of the most popular baby names released by the Social Security Administration on Friday. Liam pushed last year’s champ, Noah, to second to claim the top spot.
The Social Security Administration releases the 1,000 most popular baby names each year. They trumpeted the name reveals Friday with a Facebook Live announcement. The agency uses the announcement to draw traffic to its website, where workers can begin tracking their benefits long before retirement.
When it came to girls’ names, Emma was followed by Olivia, Ava, Isabella and Sophia.
For the boys, Liam and Noah were followed by William, James and Logan.
Other trends last year included a rise in the use of Melania for a girl, likely influenced by first lady Melania Trump.
One girl’s name that continued a downward slide is Alexa, which ranked 32nd in 2015 but placed 65th in 2017. That could be due to parents not wanting their daughter to share the same name with the voice assistant that lives inside Amazon’s Echo speakers.
Pamela Redmond Satran, who blogs about baby-naming and is also co-founder of the baby name site Nameberry.com, said the rise of Liam reflects the large population of Irish people in the U.S. who may not speak Gaelic, but have ethnic pride.
“I think you see ethnic influences coming into play in a more indirect way. You see more parents looking back and looking for places in their lives that hold meaning that can be translated into names,” said Satran, who also co-wrote the books “The Baby Name Bible” and “Cool Names for Babies.”
Ethnic pride could also be a factor for parents of Hispanic descent. A lot of new parents “are using Hispanic names rather than trying to pick more Anglo-fied names,” Satran said.
She also says Hispanic culture has become more ingrained in the food, music and television that Americans consume. So, names such as Sofia and Ariana become more well-known. In fact, Sofia came in as the 15th most popular. At its peak, it was No. 12 in 2014. There’s no telling if famous Sofias like actress Sofia Vergara or the Disney animated series, “Sofia the First,” were contributing factors.
A male Hispanic name that made a significant jump was Mateo. The name has steadily climbed the ranks since the 1990s when it barely made it into the top 1,000. In 2017, Mateo came in at 42nd, compared with 59th in 2016.
“As cultures of various Spanish-speaking countries become more familiar to mainstream America, I think the names start being used beyond the Hispanic population.”